April 20, 2020

Mindfulness and well-being resources go online

The mission of the Pruitt Center for Mindfulness and Well-Being is to promote and enhance the science and practice of mindfulness and well-being for students, faculty, staff, and surrounding communities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the center began its task of transitioning with an initial focus on faculty and staff such as offering its previously on-campus yoga classes in an online format.

The mission of the Pruitt Center for Mindfulness and Well-Being is to promote and enhance the science and practice of mindfulness and well-being for students, faculty, staff, and surrounding communities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the center began its task of transitioning with an initial focus on faculty and staff such as offering its previously on-campus yoga classes in an online format.

UWS Pruitt Center transitions mindfulness and well-being resources for students, employees and community online during pandemic

UW-Superior’s Pruitt Center for Mindfulness and Well-Being, which opened in 2018, has become a gathering hub on campus providing mindfulness and well-being resources and expertise, educational projects, and personal and professional development activities.

Yet in March, the once buzzing space became silent and empty due to the COVID-19 pandemic and requirements for social distancing.

As the campus quickly transitioned to move on-campus classes to alternative delivery methods, the Pruitt Center also began adapting its resources and services.

“During these difficult times when there are a lot of changes, transitions and an increase in stress and anxiety, one of the first things that tends to go for people is their self-care,” said Randy Barker MSE, LPC , interim director for health, counseling & well-being. “This is the time that we need this more than ever – for people to give themselves the permission to take 20-minutes to do a mindfulness exercise. We also know that science shows that can be extremely beneficial for their social, emotional, psychological well-being. We know that by doing so, they’re more creative, productive and better problem-solvers. This is so important, more now than ever.”

The center began its task of transitioning with an initial focus on faculty and staff.

“The first thing was that we wanted to make sure that we created some opportunities for faculty and staff,” said Barker. “The first few weeks we offered three mindfulness experience opportunities daily. We also created a daily Connecting with Colleagues, which allowed staff to come together, connect and talk about some of the things that are taking place on campus and in the world.”

Made possible through a generous UW-Superior Foundation gift with support from Becky and Doug Pruitt, the mission of the center is to promote and enhance the science and practice of mindfulness and well-being for students, faculty, staff, and surrounding communities.

“What we also continued to do was provide yoga twice a week, only now online rather than in-person” said Barker. “We had been doing this for quite a while, but we thought it was important that we find a way to continue to do that for our faculty and staff.”

“In the first two online yoga classes, half of the class was first-time participants,” said Lori Tuominen, program manager of mindfulness and well-being. “It was really exciting to see these new faces.”

Making the transition to online yoga took cooperation between the Pruitt Center and partners at RUNA.

“We have a wonderful working relationship,” said Barker. “Many of the people that are regulars really enjoy the RUNA teachers, so we thought that was really important. That was one of the big things was knowing that we were taking care of our faculty and staff while students were still away. For faculty and staff, there was no spring break. It was really crunch time for them – how stressful and anxiety-producing for them that was.”

Since the two-week spring break concluded, live online yoga is now also available to students twice a week.

“We continue to provide faculty and staff opportunities, but we’ve really tried to include our students,” said Barker. “We offer mindfulness every weekday. That’s open to faculty, staff, students and our greater community. Part of our mission at the Pruitt Center was to include all groups.”

Continuing to widen its focus with more online mindfulness and well-being resources for students, the center has worked to spread awareness of its services through outreach with departments such as Student Involvement and Campus Recreation.

“We’re trying to connect with student groups to talk with them about the importance of self-care right now and to utilize some of these proactive teachable, learnable skills surrounding mindfulness and well-being as much as possible,” said Barker.

The Pruitt Center has also been working on a project this past semester with a mindfulness app called Levelhead. There are 10 classrooms, two sports teams and one non-academic group in the pilot program, which consists of 12 weeks of topics related to mindfulness and well-being. Currently, more than 300 UW-Superior students have downloaded the app and are using it.

“This couldn’t have come at a better time.,” said Barker. “We know that our professors have continued – even though there was a gap – with that program as part of their curriculum. They felt, like we do, that this information, science and practice of self-care mindfulness and well-being skills are more important now than ever.”

This spring, the center is also planning to offer a virtual mindfulness-based stress reduction course open to the community.

“It’s a pretty intensive course that teaches how to incorporate the practice of mindfulness,” said Tuominen. “It’s eight-weeks, meets two-and-a-half-hours every week, plus it has an all-day session.”

While much of the immediate focus has been on serving the needs of the student and campus population through remote delivery methods, the Pruitt Center remains committed to providing training and resources to the community, as well.

“We give a lot of talks and a lot of trainings to all sorts of agencies, businesses and groups of people surrounding the science and practice of mindfulness and well-being,” said Barker. “If there are groups that are interested in learning more about what we do or what kinds of offerings we can provide, we’re very open and receptive to that at this time.”

The Pruitt Center for Mindfulness and Well-Being can be contacted by email.

The mission of the Pruitt Center for Mindfulness and Well-Being is to promote and enhance the science and practice of mindfulness and well-being for students, faculty, staff, and surrounding communities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the center began its task of transitioning with an initial focus on faculty and staff such as offering its previously on-campus yoga classes in an online format.

The mission of the Pruitt Center for Mindfulness and Well-Being is to promote and enhance the science and practice of mindfulness and well-being for students, faculty, staff, and surrounding communities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the center began its task of transitioning with an initial focus on faculty and staff such as offering its previously on-campus yoga classes in an online format.

UW-Superior Faculty/Staff

Currently due to the COVID-19 situation, Counseling Services has temporarily suspended in-person counseling sessions.

Counseling Services will continue to support student mental health needs throughout the rest of the spring semester and summer term by offering phone consultations, medication referrals and telecounseling.

Students interested in utilizing any of these services can connect with a counselor by calling 715-394-8236 or by email.

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